Friday, July 24, 2020

St Andrew's Cemetery Workshop

Today, Dale and I were invited to give a cemetery documentation workshop in the St Andrew's Cemetery in Harbour Grace. St. Andrew's is a small Presbyterian cemetery that is tucked back behind a park with trees that were planted and possibly imported from Scotland. You almost wouldn't notice that it was there if you weren't looking for it!

Entrance to St. Andrew's Cemetery, Harbour Grace. Photo by Katie Crane.
Despite the rain, we had a great group with representation from the Conception Bay Museum, the Harbour Grace Board of Culture, and the Port de Grave Peninsula Heritage Society!

A wonderful turnout for the cemetery workshop. Photo by Katie Crane.
We walked people through how to use the Billion Graves app to record the headstones in the cemetery. We also talked about common headstone materials and Dale gave his "Don't Be At It" talk about historic headstone conservation.

With so many volunteers, recording this cemetery went very quickly. You can check out what they accomplished today on the Billion Graves page for St. Andrew's Cemetery.

St. Andrew's Cemetery was sometimes referred to as the Merchants Cemetery as many of those interred within had some connection to the Merchant families of Harbour Grace.

One notable grave in the cemetery is this cast iron marker to Captain Bert Holst, the captain of a Norwegian schooner who took ill and died suddenly in 1871.

Captain Bert Holst's cast iron headstone. Photo by Katie Crane.

I found Captain Holst's death notice in the Harbor Grace Standard from December 6, 1871 on the Digital Archives Intiative.

Captain Holst's death notice. Harbour Grace Standard 1871-12-06. Courtesy of the Digital Archives Initiative.
Also buried in this cemetery is the artist Joan Parsons Woods.

Joan Parsons Woods headstone. Forever Potting. Photo by Katie Crane.
She studied art at l’École des Beaux Arts in Montreal, and she sculpted memories from her life and poured her love of Newfoundland into the clay. Her sculptures were purchased by the Historic Sites Society and displayed for the 500th anniversary of John Cabot's arrival in an exhibit called A Place Called Home which toured the island. Learn more about Joan Parsons Woods here.

We accomplished a lot today, and I think we had a lot of fun despite the rain. An old English folk saying that Dale brought up today is particularly apt: "Happy is the bride the sun shines on. Happy is the corpse the rain falls on."

And I think I know why Dale felt so at home at this cemetery...

Jarvis headstone. Photo by Katie Crane.
If your community is interested in running a cemetery workshop, get in touch!

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